Despite having mainly reserve and youth team players in the first pre-season game, Arsenal started with 8 first-team players. Our first choice full-backs were not involved and were taken over by Djourou on the right and Silvestre on the left. New signing Vermaelen partnered Gallas in the centre for the first time. Almunia started in goal.
Tomas Rosicky, Andrey Arshavin and Jack Wilshere were the first teamers who provided the attacking flair in a pretty strong first half line-up.
The biggest attention were definitely on our new signing Vermaelen and Rosicky, who is finally playing in Arsenal colours again. Arsenal took the lead twice and lost it twice. They scored through Arshavin and the ever-improving Nacer Barazite.
Arsene Wenger has said, alarmingly, that he is in no hurry to sign a replacement for Adebayor and that he possesses a big squad. A big squad, yes. Experienced one? A big no. But I feel the major reason for his optimism is the Dutchman Nacer Barazite. He burst onto the scene 2 seasons ago when he impressed in the pre-season friendlies and after watching him score, I thought I saw a brilliantly talented offensive attacker in Barazite. His competitive first-team debut was an unfortunate one as he broke his leg not long after coming on and was out for a long time. He was then sent on loan to Derby last season. This could very well be his make-or-break season and it appears Wenger might be giving him a chance to play off van Persie in the first team. Young Guns writer J. Sanderson wrote a very good piece about him here.
There isn’t anything much to say about the game itself as it being the first game after a long break, it is not indicative of the team’s strengths. The most important thing is that the players had a good run-out and that Rosicky is back. As long as he gets his match sharpness back, I have absolutely no doubt he will be a huge plus to the squad.
Onward to more games!